Students post anonymous confessions

March 18, 2013 | 11 a.m.

A Facebook page provides a “safe” way for Bethel students to share their deepest secrets

Culture | Amanda Ahlm

Students post anonymous confessions

Confessions can be sent to a SurveyMonkey link to be anonymously posted on the Facebook page.

In the digital age of Facebook, Twitter, blogging, forums and endless other communication technologies, people are relying more on the shield of anonymity to share their viewpoints.

While anonymity is by no means a new idea, technology has allowed people to hide behind the screens of their laptops, tablets and smartphones. Long gone is the snail-mail, PostSecret method of sending in anonymous confessions. Instead of coming forth and openly voicing opinions, people are relying on social media to voice anything controversial.

"Confessions" Facebook sites have been popping up, featuring colleges across the country. Some Bethel students followed the trend, making a page for other students to post their confessions. Confessions are submitted to an “anonymous” SurveyMonkey page, and these may or may not be posted to the Facebook page, depending on content.

In an email conversation, when asked why the page was made, the creator said, “We thought that it would be a cool thing to laugh about, and just kind of see where it goes. Honestly I didn't think there would be so many people on board so quickly.”

While the admins have censored the posts to some extent, many borderline offensive posts have gotten through the filter.

“We post maybe 20 percent of the confessions that come in... As the creator I have the final say, but we generally agree on what is funny and what is over the line,” said the site’s creator.

Confessions on the site range anywhere from humor to secret crushes to more serious things such as alcohol and drug abuse. While the page may seem like a harmless way to let people share their feelings while remaining unidentified, the site has its downsides. Some confessions are fairly benign and don't threaten to cause damage. However, others could be considered more divisive to the Bethel community.

The true anonymity of the page, however, cannot be determined. According to the SurveyMonkey privacy policy, “Respondents’ personal information can be captured by the survey creator in two ways: by expressly asking you for your personal details (name, address, etc.), and by configuring the survey to automatically capture your IP address and/or email address.”

While this survey does not “expressly” ask for students’ information, there is the chance that the administration of the site could be collecting IP address information without respondents knowing.

When asked about this, Bethel Confessions' creator responded, "I have never once seen a way to do that, and I have no interest in doing so."

While many college and university pages have remained active, the page for Loras College was shut down, according to Des Moines’s WhoTV.com. The comments were not representing the school’s values, so some students came forward and asked for the page to be shut down.

With that being said, students have been heavily posting and commenting on the site in the past two weeks. With hundreds of comments, the Bethel community has not given the site administrators any reason to stop what they are doing, and some people have even encouraged the site through their comments.

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